Guest Post | Fremont boy with a mission to save our planet!

Pavan receives John Muir Association’s, “Youth Environmental Education Conservation Award”.
Pavan receives John Muir Association’s, “Youth Environmental Education Conservation Award”. Pictured (left to right): JoAnne Dunec (President, John Muir Association), Pavan Raj Gowda, Tom Leatherman (General Superintendent, Contra Costa County), and George Miller (Congressman)

Pavan Raj Gowda was recently honored with the President’s Environmental Youth award for his environmental stewardship work engaging children with environmental issues. 

Caring for the environment has always been part of who I am. At age 8, I expressed my thoughts openly about how a community needs to come together to care for the environment through a story called, “Two Lakes”, which was later included in my first published children story book, Two Tales from a Kid.

With my parents’ encouragement and support, I pursued my passion for caring for our planet by starting my own website, GreenKidsNow.org and published my articles, stories, tips, and ideas. In order to help me take action on my ideas, my parents registered Green Kids Now, Inc., as a 501c(3) non-profit organization. My organization has now completed three years, and in this time frame we have been working hard in many ways to take action.

Moving into our fourth year, my organization will also be focusing on science and innovation. It is very important for everyone to understand that innovation and environmental sustainability should not be seen as two separate things. Most of the issues we are seeing today with us not knowing how to use our raw materials and how to dispose of an item properly — like plastics — is because when people created products they did not consider these things.

But now we know from our previous mistakes and from the issues we are currently facing today, that the right way is for us to think about environmental sustainability from the beginning of creating any product or solution. That’s why my organization will be focusing on showing kids how to responsibly innovate. It is time for us to rethink everything around us today that was created by our past generations. We have a lot of rethinking and redesigning work to do.

Everything we do on land has a direct impact on the oceans too. From ocean warming, toxic chemicals mixing in the waters, our waste floating away and reaching even the most remote parts of oceans, are some examples of how our actions have caused negative consequences. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am able to appreciate the majestic nature of the sea, and love learning about marine life. I can also see first-hand how our actions are negatively impacting ocean processes and ecosystems, which not only impact the marine web of life, but also impact the global balance of life on the land.

The first step in involving people to take action is to first raise their awareness on the environmental issues. People have to come forward by themselves to take action, only then it would be more effective. For that, providing all the data and sharing of information is very important. Through my second published children science fiction, Geckoboy –The Battle of Fracking, I have introduced Biomimicry, as the new method of Innovation, and also showed the side effects of fracking, a method used by oil companies to extract natural gas and oil from the underground.

Let’s all take effort to continue to learn, and do our part in protecting our planet!

— Pavan Raj Gowda

About the Author:
Pavan Raj Gowda, 13 years old, from Fremont, CA, is a passionate environmentalist, published author, and founder of non-profit charity organization, Green Kids Now, Inc. He is also the founder of Green Kids Conference.

Guest Post | Temple Beth Abraham Wetlands Restoration Day

Temple Beth Abraham planting
Temple Beth Abraham has been restoring the Bay with us since 2002.

Jody London and fellow members of Temple Beth Abraham recently celebrated Tu B’Shevat by planting with us at Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh. 

I checked my records. The first Temple Beth Abraham Wetlands Restoration Day was April 7, 2002. The idea of bringing a group from Temple Beth Abraham out to Save The Bay’s restoration site at Arrowhead Marsh was launched at the synagogue retreat, in October 2001. For me, with my older daughter in the two-year old class at the synagogue nursery school and serving on the Board of Save The Bay, it was an ideal way to bring together the organizations to which I was dedicating most of my spare time.

Over the years Temple Beth Abraham has worked at Arrowhead Marsh in many different locations, at different times of the year, doing different activities. The past few years, due to popular demand, we have settled in to using our workday to observe Tu B’Shevat. Tu B’Shevat is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the trees, spring, and being good stewards of the environment.

On Sunday, January 27, Temple Beth Abraham brought a group of 40 adults and kids to a location in Arrowhead Marsh we had not worked previously (and I thought we had worked every acre of the park!). About half the group was new to this activity. And many were coming for the second, third, or in the case of my family, twelfth time. It was great to have one of the preschool teachers there with her husband for the first time, and so many of her past and current students! We planted various native grasses, the seeds of which had been harvested at Arrowhead Marsh and grown in the native plant nursery Save The Bay operates in conjunction with the East Bay Regional Park District. The work was hard at times, as the soil was full of concrete from the days when the Marsh was slated to become more industrial park. And the work was fulfilling: we calculate we planted over 200 seedlings, which as they grow will provide habitat for all sorts of critters, filter out impurities in the water that flows into the Bay, and help control flooding that will come with rising sea levels.

We were especially honored that Save The Bay had us help plant an oak seedling at the restoration site! In our dozen years of work with Save the Bay, we have never planted trees, only seedlings that help restore native habitat. The Save The Bay staff recognized the significance of Tu B’Shevat, and the ongoing commitment from Temple Beth Abraham, and decided to allow us to plant a tree, in addition to grasses and lower lying plants. It is our hope that the oak tree will grow strong, and others may join it, reminding us of the native oak forest – the largest on the Pacific Coast – that once stood where we now live.

Many thanks to Michelle and Jack for another great workday at Arrowhead Marsh!

– Jody London

Jody London served on the Save the Bay from 1999 – 2008. Since 2009, she has served as an elected member of the Board of the Oakland Unified School District.